By Don G.
Each one of us finds his own way to sobriety, and in that journey our experiences are both unique and common in many ways. But beyond that miraculous achievement lies a pathway of fascinating adventure. My own wellspring was in Little Rock a long time ago, and since then I’ve wandered in many directions, all of them bathed in the sunlight of the Spirit.
A few years ago my travels led me across the grand delta of south Arkansas, into the piney woods of east Texas, and out onto the Blackland Prairie and the Hill Country, where I set down new roots. I took my portable recovery program with me, and it has flourished wherever I’ve planted it.
Last month we crossed the Rio Grande Valley, the Mexican border, the great Chihuauha plain, and into the high desert of the Bajio. We came to rest in a cradle of Mexican independence, San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo.
I suppose you can call it a coincidence, but the English Speaking AA Group was a five-minute walk around the block from our front door. The name of the group is La Luz…The Light. In Spanish, the term they use for giving birth is “dar a luz” which means “to give light.”
A number of Americans live in this area, and some of the Mexicans refer to it as “Gringolandia.” American or Mexican or whatever, we already know that at least 10 per cent are going to be alcoholics, and this place is no exception.
The La Luz group is mostly Americans who live in Mexico, with a smattering of English speaking Mexicans and transient visitors like us. Their welcome was, of course, warm and inviting.
And then it began to unfold…the stories that we know so well. There was Michael with 6 months, making his 5th or 6th attempt at sobriety, never yet having put together a year, and becoming frightened as he draws closer to it. Allan is in his first year, but he also has an addiction to relationships. At his sponsor’s insistence, he’s abstained so far, but he’s become obsessed with loneliness. Juan is a Mexican who began recovery in New York and has just returned home, wondering if he’ll be able to stay sober here. They are all new faces with stories and feelings I have known for years.
But of all of them, Doug touched me the most. He had come to Mexico for treatment, leaving his high-powered job behind, his home and children, and his “human doing” life. Doug had caught fire…you could hear it in his sharing. He had been so busy all his life, he hadn’t known serenity, God, and loving fellowship as we do.
The process of our steps fascinated him, and as he stumbled into the light, he was overwhelmed by the discoveries. His story mirrored my own personal experience exactly, and just like me, he had no idea what he’d do when it was time to go home. Doug’s treatment was ending and he’d made the monumental decision to extend and stay on for aftercare.
La Luz has a men’s meeting on Sunday night … fifteen guys seated in a circle. Bob was there, with 31 years of sobriety, he’d gotten sober in Little Rock. He’d been twelve stepped by his cousin, Clint, who just “happened” to be one of my own sponsors. Call it coincidence if you like, but I know better. As they shared, these men spoke the thoughts and experiences of my heart and mind. They were, and are, my brothers.
Tuesday is speaker night, and Lou shared his story of nine years of successful sobriety. But before that, he’d had eight years, and suffered five more painful years of “out there” before making it back to us, hopefully this time for good, one day at a time.
The next week Ken shared his 26-year experience in sobriety. He’d just returned from a ten-week intensive meditation retreat in the Greek islands. After all these years, Ken’s still seeking, and is wise enough to know he’ll never find it all…that he’s not supposed to. Our book says, “God could and would if He were sought.” It doesn’t say God could and would if He were found.
My wife Cynthia fell right in with the women’s meeting on Thursday morning. She speaks fluent Spanish and has guided me all through Mexico, but she didn’t need it for this group, not because it was English speaking, but because they all spoke the language of the heart. The next week the meeting’s scheduled speaker had to cancel, so Cynthia was tapped to share her story, and the women marveled at her honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to tell it all.
Wherever we went, my wife and I shared our experience, strength, and hope as we had lived it and learned from it, and we were home once again, with our own people, this time in the high desert of central Mexico. For certain, alcoholism is up there in the Bajio, but so is our AA program…and the One who has all power. We encountered all of its wonder and beauty because we went there seeking, which in the end seems to be the only thing that matters.